Thursday, August 04, 2005

Minnis Sells Virtual Charter Schools out to the OEA

I still can barely believe it.

I will post the entire sequence of events when I have more time, but the short version is that Speaker Karen Minnis traded SB1071 for who-knows-what, knowing full well that the effect would be to give the state a monopoly on virtual schooling and very possible shut down the Oregon Connections Academy, the virtual charter school started by the Scio School District.

The OEA wanted this bill because they are deathly afraid of the ramifications of school districts creating virtual charter schools and competing statewide for students who could be taught by non-unionized teachers.

They got Senate President Peter Courtney to insist that it be passed without amendments as part of the session ending deal. Minnis agreed.

Why did she agree? Well, she obviously traded it for something, but we know not what.

But she made the trade without bothering to find out what the ramifications of the bill were for the existing virtual school. Her staff completely dropped the ball - I personally told them that the bill had major flaws that would have to be fixed if for some reason the bill became part of the end-of-session shenanigans.

Yet behind closed doors, without any input from anybody who understood the policy ramifications of the bill, and without even bothering to check on them, she sold the 275 kids who have signed up for the Connections Academy (and the 2500 or so who the school intends to serve in the future) right down the river.

When it was pointed out to her the result of her deal, she still refused to change course.

Pretty amazing.

I'll soon write out the whole sequence of events for those who are interested in the inside baseball side of things. It is a case study of the lunacy that legislative end-game politics has become.


Al said...

My bet is Peter cashed in some dusty I.O.U's on that deal.

But did we get a first round pick in 2028 out of the deal?

gus miller said...

It would not surprise me to see Karen assume a high level position in state government soon.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Karen Minnis. I certainly hope she never intends to run for higher office. I don't see how she could win a statewide Republican primary now.

Screwing Education Reformers? That's one of the main pillars of the Republican party. This is a dark day for her.

Anonymous said...

The virtual school in Scio has not opened yet; it's due to open in a month. It's been controversial all along; ODE barely decided to allow state school support to flow to it. While it will certainly be disappointing to students outside of the Scio district boundaries, especially to find out so close to the start of the school-year, and this bill will impact several charter schools that have been operating for several years, this policy needs to be broadly considered, not just through the lens of one yet-to-start charter school or the lens of several current charter schools that will have to make some adjustments.

Oregon is not ready for state-wide virtual charter schools; whether we personally want them or not, we need to acknowledge our political reality. SB 1071 may have been part of an 11th-hour deal made by Karen Minnis, but she certainly has much company (i.e., the majority of other Legislators, ODE, OSBA, OEA) who supported the provision that requires charter schools that provide on-line courses to have 50% of their enrollment consist of local students.

What is much more concerning to me is that this bill could give ODE a monopoly on virtual education. It's not a given that the bill does that, but we'll see what kind of OARs ODE establishes.

Clearly, Oregon is seriously behind the times in our lack of adequately providing for quality virtual education.

Anonymous said...

I'm crushed!!! My son is one of the 270 already enrolled students who expected to begin classes with ORCA on Sept.12th. I just can't believe what they have done by passing this bill. I withdrew my son from the Canby Public Schools District in January of this year. I have no intention of ever returning him to a b&m school. ORCA was a blessing for us. The 50% District Enrollment is undoubtedly one of the most idiotic concepts they have come up with in a long time. But then again, it did ensure that they got what they wanted in the end, didn't it?

Anonymous said...

ORCA WILL open in the fall so no parent should be worried about that. They can tie their enemies up in court for some time. The more students they enroll, the more powerful they become and the more legislators' support they gain.

As for the poster who commented about Minnis having company in her deal...A maority of her caucus voted against her on this. And I don't think you help her by pointing out she had the support of ODE, OEA and OSBA. When you have their support, you should stop and re-think.

Rob Kremer said...

Don't worry about ORCA for now - if the teachers union uses 1071 to target ORCA, it will be a long time before it plays out.

I think we successfully established in the legislative record that ORCA is grandfathered because it was approved prior to the effective date of the bill.

That doesn't guarantee we would prevail in a lawsuit that claimed otherwise, but it certainly helps.

What 1071 just might have done was give ORCA an effective monopoly on virtual charter schools!

So, don't despair. This is a long term battle and we are only in the early stages.